Updated: Feb 23
Building a home can be a stressful endeavor, especially if you don’t pick the right custom home builder. Being picky about who you choose is imperative, as it will dictate your entire experience with the process. Choosing a company, you trust and one that makes the entire process enjoyable to you makes a world of difference. They will listen to you, respect your input, involve you in the process, and will make you feel confident that you made the right choice, both with your home and with your finances.
So, how do you choose a custom home builder who can do all of that for you and more? Read on to find out.
How to Choose a Home Builder
When deciding on custom home builders, you should be picky! Think about it this way: are you comfortable compromising the quality of your dream home because you choose the cheapest builder? Are you okay with cutting corners, expanding the timeline, or not getting the appliances you want because your builder is partnered with another appliance company? Most importantly, how available and accommodating are the builders when you ask to see previous work, abou warranty information, or get referrals?
You will need to consider all of those things and more when you’re picking a builder.
You’ll also need to consider the following:
Warranty and service
When it comes to long-term projects, such as building a custom home, communication is everything. You may drive by your home and not see a lot of progress, but if the builder is communicative, you’ll know exactly why. They could be working with the architect to finalize a design, planning electrical work, waiting on the weather for specific services, or they could be addressing an emergency at another build site.
A communicative builder will keep you in the loop with everything and will be honest and transparent with your project. They should be quick to get back to you as well.
Any builder who doesn’t call you back within a few business days, is always rushed, or who defers your questions isn’t one you should hire.
Warranty and Service
Does the builder offer a warranty? A quality custom home builder will stand by their work and will offer a warranty on it. A warranty isn’t a guarantee that something will break; in the housing industry, it’s a testament to the builder’s confidence. If they offer a warranty, then it’s a good sign that the builder is confident their work is done right and will last.
Not all home builders offer warranties, though. If they don’t, it’s not a red flag on their service, but it is something to consider if you’re debating between choosing one of two companies.
Good reputations = good experiences.
If you want to know how to find a custom home builder, then look no further than their reviews, testimonials, and referrals. While you should take online reviews with a grain of salt, you can always get a feel for how the company treats their clients based on what others are saying about them.
You can check online reviews and ask for referrals from friends, coworkers, neighbors, and the builder themselves.
When Considering Online Reviews:
Look at the sample size and the average rating. The more reviews a company has, the more established they likely are and the more experience in your area they likely have. For example, a local builder with an average Google rating of 4.8 (out of 5) from 10 total reviews means that about 9 people had a wonderful experience. That’s great, but compare it to another local builder who has a 4.2 average rating from 1,000 reviews. That likely means over 900 people have a 5-star experience, versus the previous 9.
Also consider what is in the reviews. If a lot of them are 5 stars, (or 1 star), but don’t have a message attached to them, disregard those reviews. Stick to the ones that detail their experiences and look for any common problems or praises, such as:
How they communicated
If they finished on budget and on time
If the builders were respectful
If the reviewer felt like they did a good job
When Considering Referrals
Referrals are one of the best ways to find a good custom home builder. If someone you trust tells you to use that company, then you will be confident that they did a good job. You can also ask the person who referred you to show you pictures of their work.
When the builder tells you who they worked with in the past, you know that the builder is confident in their work and proud of what they did for their clients. If a builder doesn’t offer that information, it may be a good idea to look elsewhere.
Not every builder specializes in your desired style. If they can’t capture your vision or personality in their design, then they’re not the right builder for you.
Thankfully, this is usually really simple to find out. All you have to do is visit the builder’s website and browse pictures of their past jobs, available floorplans, and if they partner with any architect firm. If you like what you see, great! If you don’t, they probably are not right for you.
Licensing and Insurance
Finally, ask if they are licensed in your state and if they are insured.
Not every state has laws or regulations concerning builder licensing. For example, BC is fully licensed, insured, and ready to go. Here are the laws in the states we operate in…
Under Arizona law, you do not have to have a license to build a home if the land owner intends to live in the home. A license is only required if the owner intends to sell or rent the home within one year of it being built, unless there is a significant change of circumstance.
A change of circumstance includes:
Job loss which leads to the inability to cover mortgage payments
Medical emergencies due to the home, such as heart conditions triggered by high altitudes
Contracting without a license is a crime, namely, a Class One misdemeanor.
All residential builders and maintenance and alteration contractors who construct, repair, alter or improve a residential or combination residential and commercial structure are required to be licensed.
Finally, consider the quality of their builders. While you won’t be able to determine the quality of your own home until it’s built, you can look at past projects.
Look for signs of quality within the construction, including the exterior foundations and the interior, such as cabinets, trim work, and even plumbing. Ask the owner about any issues they’ve had with the home and if they’ve had to repair, replace, or redo anything in their home and when they had the work done in relation to when the house was built. For example, a home that was built in 2019 should not need new plumbing, while a home built in the 1950s probably will need to be repiped soon.
Also look at homes that are currently under construction by the same builder. Look at how they operate: is the site clean and organized? Does it look like it’s being put together professionally? Are their third-party contractors onsite or is the work being done fully by their team?
All of those signs will tell you if the build quality is up to your standards or if you should look for another company.
The real answer to “How do you pick a custom home builder” is simple: be picky! It’s your home, your time, and your money; you deserve to get what you want with it (within reason, of course). There will be some things that aren’t within your control, such as weather delays, supplies being backordered, or illness, but you should definitely be picky about the things you can control.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions too! We compiled a list of must-asks, which you can find here. There is nothing wrong with shopping around, interviewing builders, asking for specific design types, appliance brands, and services. For example, if you want a local builder who handles the entire home from start to finish and who can put stainless steel Maytag appliances in your home, then you need to ask your prospective builders if they can do this before you hire them.
Make a list of builders, cross them off as you see fit, and add positives, negatives, and what you’ll need to compromise on if you hire them. For example, you may need to compromise on your build timeline if one builder has a lot of other clients at the moment, or you may need to accept that they’ll use third-party plumbers instead of an in-house team. This is an amazing way to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want, without guessing on what you may need to rethink.
If you’re unsure where to start, give us a call. Our team has decades of experience and will treat you like family right from the beginning. We’re also a full-service build team, so you’ll be working with us from land development, right until we hand you the keys. We will even help you sell your current home. We will work closely with you to make sure your budget and expectations are met, so that you can focus on what matters most: giving you the house of your dreams! Give us a call at 480-900-1991 or visit us online to learn more.